The Most Important Column I  Have Written This Year

I do not have space in this column for a long, poetic introduction, reflecting upon the heights to which the Association has risen in the past bar year. I will do that at the convention. I have other work to do in this limited space. Namely, I need to thank some people who all too often do not get the praise they deserve.

Let me start with thanking the woman who makes this award-winning publication run, Suzanne Robertson. The Journal is consistently a highlight for our membership and is without peer. Our receptionist, Linda Murphy, deserves great thanks for making our office a welcome and professional place. Finance Director Sonya Cliff makes sure the numbers add up. Thank you for handling the unenviable task of answering to more than 12,000 lawyers regarding what is happening to their money. Thanks also to Tanja Trezise, who filled Sonya’s role last year. Tanja is our accounts receivable/customer service coordinator, and she embodies the spirit of the TBA, willing to undertake any task to help the association. Speaking of utility players, Karen Belcher is the “do everything” person for the leadership of the bar. Our Board of Governors, House of Delegates, Sections and Committees owe a debt of gratitude to Karen for making sure we have what we need to do our work.

This past year we hired Dave Bevis to be our full-time IT person. What a great move that was. You cannot bill your presidency as focusing on technology and the future of the profession unless your in-house ducks are in order, and Dave takes care of that. Staying on the technology end, thank you to Steve King, who handles our video services and webcasting. His professional and polished product is a point of great pride.

We do CLE’s better than anyone I have seen, local, state, national, bar none … period … exclamation point. Mindy Fulks and her team of Abigail Phillips and Brenna Scheving are to thank for that. You guys are simply amazing. While thanking people for doing it better than anyone else, I should thank Liz Todaro for coordinating our Access to Justice community. Leaders around the country look to Tennessee for their cues on access to justice issues. We stand at the forefront because of the tremendous volunteers in our state and the efforts of Liz. I was worried when Liz informed me that she wanted to step back from her duties as Programs Coordinator to focus solely upon Access to Justice. Enter Skip Rudsenske who stepped in to fill that enormous void. He and Jenny Jones continue to expand and improve upon the work of our Sections and Committees. Skip, if this is what you and Jenny are capable of in your first year of working together, I am thrilled about the future prospects. Speaking of programs and committees, I have to single out Kate Prince, whose nickname should be “Wonder Woman.” Kate is the heart and soul of TBA Leadership Law program (TBALL) and the Evolving Legal Market committee, two of our most challenging and successful programs.

As membership director, Kathy Prescott spends her days and nights thinking about how to make the bar relevant for lawyers, and our record levels of membership are a testament to her work. One of our most relevant functions is providing information. Thank you to Landry Butler for running our publications and Katharine Heriges (rhymes with asparagus) for serving as our communications coordinator. Together, they keep Tennessee lawyers informed and connected, the most valuable service we can provide.

If you have ever enjoyed yourself at one of our meetings (and how could you not?), you have Therese Byrne to thank. She makes our time together special. You won’t believe what she has in store for convention (One last plug: come to Kingsport in June; see details). If you are a young lawyer, Lauren Hopper Lee is taking care of you and you are in excellent hands. If you are concerned about what is going on in the legislature or with the courts, be thankful that Brenda Gadd represented the association with such skill and grace.

All of these people are so successful because of their compassion, dedication and work ethic, and because they have great leadership. Barry Kolar, is the “glue guy” of the TBA. He has stepped up as interim executive director this year, and I can’t think of anyone whom I would have rather had in that position. Barry, it has been an honor working with you.

That leaves one person for me to thank. There will be time for public events and extended “thank yous” in the near future. However, given the nature of this column, I would be criminally remiss if I did not thank our Executive Director Emeritus Allan Ramsaur. No one has done more for the legal profession over the past 20 years than Allan. In addition to assembling the incredible team I have just described, he has led with intelligence and vision. I know for a fact that not a day goes by when he does not think about what is best for Tennessee lawyers and the system of justice in our state. As I told him earlier this year, he has made me a better president, lawyer and person for my association with him. While he has stepped into the role of director emeritus, I suspect that he will continue for some time to leave a large and positive imprint upon our profession. Thank you, Allan.

This is our bar staff, and they deserve our thanks.


Jason Long JASON H. LONG is a partner with Lowe, Yeager & Brown in Knoxville. A graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, he is a past president of the TBA Young Lawyers Division and the Knoxville Bar Association Barristers.

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